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Choosing a Mattress for Antique Beds

Choosing a Mattress for Antique Beds

A mattress for an antique bed doesn’t need to be as old as the frame! Mattresses need to be replaced every seven to nine years so that they stay comfortable, supportive, and lump-free.

Choosing a mattress for an antique bed is exactly the same as choosing one for a modern frame. You need to think about the size and weight of the people using the bed. What type of support is needed, and what type of mattress you prefer.

It’s perfectly fine to use an ultra-modern memory foam mattress on an antique bed. Or you can go for traditional pocketed spring mattresses. The important thing is that your mattress fits the bed frame and is comfortable and supportive.

What is the best mattress for an antique bed?

The type of mattress you choose for your antique bed entirely depends on your personal choices. It’s perfectly fine to use a memory foam mattress on an antique bed. Or you can choose a more traditional pocketed spring design.

Bear in mind, though, that antique beds may be a different size from your standard modern bed. So you’ll need to choose carefully to make sure you don’t either overhang the edges or end up with a gap between the mattress and the bed frame.

The type of base may also determine what type of mattress you choose. For a slatted base antique bed, a thicker spring mattress may be preferable. It will ensure that the correct amount of support keeps you comfortable all night long.

If your antique bed has a flat base, then a memory foam mattress may be better. Although it’s thinner than a classic pocketed spring mattress, a memory foam mattress still provides all the support you need, regardless of the style of the bed frame.

If your antique bed frame is hand-made or very old, you may need to contact a company that makes bespoke mattresses to order.

What size are antique beds?

While American beds became standardised in the 18th century, European beds tended to be a little more ‘random’ in size until much later. Standard bed sizes also tend to vary from country to country. Antique beds tend to be slightly smaller than their more modern counterparts. So an antique double bed will be more towards a small double or Queen in size (120cm x 190cm or 47” wide x 74” long). An antique single bed is more likely to be the same size as a small single (75cm x 190cm or 30” wide x 74” long).

What base should I choose for an antique bed frame?

In most cases, the price you see for antique beds just includes the frame, head and foot boards. This means you'll need to set aside some extra budget for a bed base and mattress. Usually, getting a bed base fitted is quite straightforward and can be done by the seller. The style you choose will depend on what mattress you would like and your comfort preferences.

Slats or solid base?

Both of these base styles have their advantages. Slatted bases are usually cheaper to install and make the bed lighter to move. A solid base provides a totally flat surface for the mattress to sit on which gives more even support all over. You can also opt for a more modern style of base, including a sprung edge design. This style gives the same even support as a solid base but has a spongier feel. It's usually preferred by those that dislike a firm feeling bed and tends to be used in divan styles.

Do I need a custom mattress an antique bed?

Some particularly old styles of antique beds are made in awkward sizes. This makes them much harder to match with a modern-day mattress. Custom mattresses can be beneficial if you are happy with the size of the bed and would prefer to keep the frame from being modified. Having a custom mattress also means that you have more flexibility with comfort. You can choose exactly what materials you would like and the desired firmness. So while a custom style is pricey, it can be worthwhile.

What mattress firmness for antique beds?

If the bed is installed with a solid base, you may prefer to opt for a slightly softer mattress than usual. The firm support for the base can make a mattress feel firmer than it would on a slatted or sprung edge design. Similarly, if you're used to using a solid base; switching to a slatted frame can make the mattress feel softer. You should always choose your mattress firmness based on your body weight and comfort preferences. Here's a general guideline to follow when deciding on your perfect firmness:

  • Soft tension: A soft mattress is usually best suited for those weighing nine stone and under. It can also be a comfortable option for people that like to sleep on their sides
  • Medium tension: Medium tensions are most comfortable for those weighing between nine and sixteen stone. Medium firmness tends to be the most popular choice for couples of different weights
  • Medium-firm tension: If you're at the top end of the medium tension weight scale and prefer a firmer feel, medium-firm is a great option
  • Firm tension: Firm tensions tend to be most comfortable for those weighing sixteen stone and over
  • Extra-firm tension: Extra firm is typically best suited for those needing extra support for back pain. Most orthopaedic mattresses fall into this category

Need help still in deciding what mattress to get? Read our how to choose a mattress guide for more tips and advice.

Author: Lucy

Lucy is a copywriter, trend spotter, and our resident sleep expert! Lucie has been with the team since 2018 and her articles cover a sweeping array of subjects from general product care, the latest bedroom design trends, ways to promote healthier sleep and jargon-busting explanations to help you understand what goes into our products. Do you have questions for Lucy & the team? Call one of our sleep experts today!